Suffering a dog bite can be a distressing experience, with potential consequences extending beyond the immediate physical injury. If you find yourself in such a situation in Arizona, it’s crucial to understand your rights and the legal options available to you.
Dog bite laws vary from state to state, and even within different counties and cities, making it essential to navigate the specifics of Arizona’s regulations. This article aims to shed light on the possibility of pursuing legal action (suing for a dog bite injury) and seeking compensation after a dog bite incident.
By consulting with a knowledgeable dog bite attorney familiar with local and state laws, you can better understand the potential for legal recourse and the compensation you may be entitled to based on the damages you have suffered.
Arizona has a specific law, known as the “Dog Bite Statute,” which specifically addresses dog bite cases and can be found in Section 11-1025 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
If you or someone you loved is a victim of a dog bite, please contact the Phoenix dog bite attorneys at Hutzler Law. We can help.
Who Can be a Victim of a Dog Bite?
Dog bites can affect individuals of all ages, and while children are often vulnerable to such incidents, it’s crucial to recognize that anyone can become a victim of a dog bite. While children may be at a higher risk due to their smaller size and limited ability to defend themselves against dogs, it is important to remember that adults, seniors, and even other animals can also suffer from dog bite injuries.
Regardless of age or circumstances, the impact of a dog bite can be severe, ranging from physical injuries and scarring to emotional trauma and long-term psychological effects. It is essential for everyone to understand the risks associated with dog bites and take appropriate precautions when interacting with unfamiliar dogs or in situations where a dog’s behavior may be unpredictable.
This includes practicing responsible pet ownership, educating oneself about canine behavior, and seeking legal assistance if necessary to ensure proper medical treatment and pursue compensation for the damages incurred.
Common Dog Bite Injuries in Arizona
Dog bite injuries vary from minor scratches to life-threatening injuries or even fatalities.
Typical dog bite injuries include:
- Punctures from a dog’s teeth. These wounds are usually deep. Because they are difficult to clean, they are more prone to infection.
- Scratches and cuts.
- Any bite that leaves a deep enough wound could cause scarring. However, children who suffer bites to the face and neck usually have more scarring.
- Facial injuries. If a dog bites you in the face and does enough damage, the bite could cause permanent scarring and disfigurement. The dog bite victim could suffer from emotional distress and depression because of a disfiguring dog bite.
- Broken bones. If a large dog has exceptional bite force, the dog could break bones, especially in children.
- A dog with rabies could pass it on to the person who suffered from the dog bite. Because rabies is fatal, the victim must start treatment immediately. Even if you know a dog does not have rabies, you should have a doctor check for rabies so they can begin treatment with the vaccine immediately, if needed.
- Nerve damage. If a dog bite goes deep enough and the dog tears the flesh, you could suffer nerve damage, especially in the hands and face.
- Traumatic brain injuries if a dog causes you to fall and hit your head.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
Even dog bite injuries that seem minor could cause extensive medical bills if complications such as infections set in. After a dog bite, you should always seek medical attention.
If a dog bite exacerbates an existing condition or injury, you could also recover compensation to pay for new injuries or symptoms, as you would not have suffered them if not for the dog bite.
Maricopa County Local Dog Bite Information
Each county has its own local rules for handling dog bites. If you suffered a dog bite in Phoenix or other parts of Maricopa County, you should report the bite. You can also report the bite by calling (602) 506-7387 if you do not wish to fill out the appropriate forms for bites to humans or other animals.
Even when you report a dog bite, you should contact a dog bite attorney to help you recover the compensation you deserve, especially if your injuries are severe. Field Officers from Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) will interview you, witnesses, and the dog owner. The Field Officer also collects information from all involved, including contact information, video, and photo evidence, and makes a notation of injuries. The Field Officer may issue a citation to the dog owner.
A dog that bit must stay quarantined for ten days from the date of the bite the quarantine is to observe the dog to ensure that it doesn’t have rabies. If the dog is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination and is licensed, it may quarantine at home. Otherwise, the dog spends the quarantine period at MCACC or a veterinarian’s hospital. If the dog does not have rabies, MCACC notifies you by mail.
The county does not help you recover compensation because of a dog bite. It only investigates the incident. You will need a dog bite attorney to recover the compensation you deserve.
What to Do After a Dog Bite in Arizona
If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Arizona, it’s important to take immediate steps to protect your rights and strengthen your case. By following these recommended actions, you can potentially enhance your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Gather Vital Information
To support your case, gather the following key information:
1. Take photos of the dog
Documenting the appearance of the dog involved can provide valuable evidence. Capture clear images of the dog’s physical characteristics, such as its size, breed (if known), and any distinguishing features.
2. Obtain the dog owner’s contact information
Collect the contact details of the dog’s owner, including their name, phone number, and address. This information is crucial for establishing liability and pursuing a claim.
3. Obtain the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance information
Inquire about the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. Even if the dog attack occurred off the owner’s property, their homeowner’s insurance might cover the incident. Obtaining this information can be pivotal for pursuing compensation.
4. Take photos of your injuries
Capture photographs of your injuries as soon as possible. If you are unable to take photos yourself, request assistance from someone else. Alternatively, ask medical professionals to document your injuries with photographs.
5. File a police report
Report the dog bite incident to the local authorities by filing a police report. Provide them with a detailed account of what happened, including the date, time, and location of the attack.
6. Note the date, time, and location of the attack
Documenting the specifics of the dog bite incident, including the date, time, and exact location, helps establish a clear timeline of events.
Take Necessary Actions
To ensure your well-being and protect your legal rights, take the following actions:
1. Describe the dog if you couldn’t take photos
If you were unable to capture photos of the dog, write down a detailed description of its appearance. Include information about its size, breed (if known), color, and any unique markings.
2. Seek immediate medical attention
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, it is crucial to seek prompt medical care. Even seemingly minor wounds can become infected, and it is important to rule out the risk of rabies transmission from the dog.
3. Contact a dog bite attorney
Reach out to a reputable dog bite attorney in your area to seek legal representation and guidance. A skilled attorney experienced in dog bite cases will help you navigate the legal process, protect your rights, and work towards recovering the compensation you rightfully deserve.
By following these recommended steps, you can proactively handle the aftermath of a dog bite incident in Arizona, safeguard your well-being, and increase the likelihood of a successful claim.
Legal Process for Designating a Dog as Vicious and Its Potential Consequences
Any person with reasonable grounds can file a petition with the City magistrate or justice of the peace asking to label a dog as vicious. If the court believes the animal is vicious, it can impound the animal “on such terms the court deems necessary to protect public safety.”
The court conducts an informal hearing that is open to the public. The person who filed the petition to ask for a vicious designation for the dog must provide evidence. If the dog’s owner doesn’t appear for the hearing, the owner waives their rights to offer evidence against the claim that their dog is vicious.
The court will determine whether the dog is vicious based on documentation and oral evidence provided by the petitioner and the dog’s owner.
If the court determines that a dog is vicious, it has several options, including:
- Ordering the owner to display a sign with the words “Vicious Animal.”
- Ordering the owner to procure public liability insurance of at least $100,000 to cover injuries or death to a person or damage to property that her dog caused.
- Ordering the destruction of the dog.
- Ordering the dog to wear a leash and muzzle when outside a pen, kennel, or the owner’s home.
- Ordering the owner to spay or neuter the dog.
- Ordering the owner to have the dog defanged or declawed.
Statute of Limitations in Arizona for Dog Bites
In most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury based on negligence is two (2) years. However, dog bite suits are typically brought under strict liability for violating a statute.
You have only one year from the day the dog bit you to file a claim under strict liability. One year is not a very long time to file a claim, as several things happen before filing a claim, including an investigation of your case.
Your legal team also needs time to locate and question witnesses and the dog owner and collect other evidence, including medical records. If your injuries are severe or catastrophic, it could take longer than a few weeks to obtain the medical records you need doctors may take longer to determine whether an injury will affect you for the rest of your life. The best time to contact a dog bite attorney is as soon after the incident as possible.
What Types of Damages Can I Be Compensated for in a Dog Bite Attack?
After a dog bite attack, you could recover compensatory damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages. While the money doesn’t eliminate your injuries, erase the pain and suffering, or bring back a loved one who died because of a dog attack, it can bring you financial stability.
Economic damages have a monetary value. Most people recover economic damages, including:
The amount of medical expenses you might recover depends on the extent of your injuries.
You could recover compensation for:
- Doctor’s appointments.
- Surgeries and follow-up appointments.
- Psychological therapy.
- Cognitive therapy.
- Occupational therapy.
- Physical therapy.
- Prescriptions and prescribed over-the-counter medications.
- Ambulatory aids.
- Medical equipment.
- Updates to your home, including wheelchair ramps, handrails, grab bars and widened doorways.
- Hand controls for your vehicle.
- Home health care or nursing home care or rehabilitation.
If a dog bite is severe enough, it could cause you to miss work while you recover. You could collect compensation for the missed days. In some cases, a dog bite causes significant injuries such as nerve damage or traumatic brain damage. If doctors do not expect you to recover fully and you can no longer work, you could recover loss of future earning capacity.
Even if you can work part-time or are forced to take a job that pays much less than your current job, you could recover the loss of partial future earning capacity.
If you lost a loved one because of a dog attack or dog bite, you could recover compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Cremation expenses.
- Certain probate court expenses.
- Probate attorneys’ fees and costs.
Non-economic damages do not have a monetary value. Generally, you can recover non-economic damages if you suffer catastrophic injuries that lead to long-term or permanent disabilities or if you lost a loved one due to a dog bite or attack.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if your injuries require you to take medications, use ambulatory aids, or make other changes for the rest of your life.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy the time, activities, and events with your family.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the work you usually do, including but not limited to house cleaning, grocery shopping, home maintenance and repair, and lawn maintenance.
- Excessive scarring and disfigurement.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Loss of use of a digit or limb.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight.
Consult with our Experienced Dog Bite Attorneys in Arizona
If you have been a victim of a dog bite or attack in Arizona, it is crucial to seek immediate legal assistance. Contact our reputable team of dog bite lawyers at Hutzler Law Firm today for a complimentary case evaluation. Time is of the essence, as Arizona law allows only two year to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation for your dog bite injuries and losses.
By reaching out to our skilled Phoenix personal injury attorneys without delay, you enable us to promptly initiate an in-depth investigation into your case. This allows us to gather vital evidence and build the strongest possible claim to ensure you receive the rightful compensation you deserve for your dog bite-related damages and suffering.
Don’t hesitate – take the first step towards securing your recovery by contacting us today.